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Email Overload!Sunday, April 6th, 2014

by Mandy Green, Head Women’s Soccer Coach, The University of South Dakota

Over the last few months, I have been reading everything I can about how to manage my email better.  I have also started to interview some of my college coaching friends out there trying to find what they are doing to process, manage, and keep track of all of the emails we as coaches have to deal with everyday.

I NEEDED to do this.

About two years ago I had over 10,000 emails in my inbox.  Obnoxious, I know.  The worst part about it was that I knew I was missing out on recruits, I wasn’t responding quick enough or at all, I was forgetting who I had sent what to, etc.  My email inbox owned me.

I got to the point where I was just overwhelmed by it all.  I knew that I had to figure out how to use email efficiently because it is an essential part to our job.

1st Step To Email Efficiency: List Making

I started my quest to use email better by making a list of all of the steps in the recruiting process that involve email in some way.  I am a list maker and need to have everything out of my head and on paper in front of me so I can analyze and identify where problems may be.

Here is the quick and very general list I created.

  1. New emails that come in from prospects who are interested
  2. Enter in all new recruits into our database
  3. Get the first email out
  4. Have a system for processing and storing all emails that are returned from prospects.
  5. Creating consistent conversations with recruits
  6. Keeping track of who has been sent what amongst our staff

Where are the Problems?

After making this list, I really took a look at the system I had in place to see which part of email the process pertaining to recruiting that I was struggling with..

*At the time, I had no full-time assistants and I knew that I couldn’t waste time entering names into a database.  I hired a student worker who came in a few times a week and could get every name entered within a day or two.  Huge time savor!

*Once the names are in, I have a few great first letters that have I gotten great results with.   Dan Tudor has really helped us open the door to getting the recruits we want with all of his advice on how to write effective recruiting letters.  But he has also created a problem for me in that now I have too many recruiting emails to deal with.

*Step 4-6 is where I get overwhelmed.

Solution

To solve the problems I was having, I first started by reading whatever I can get my hands on as it pertains to using email more efficiently.  One issue with what is out there is that it is all written for the business world so nothing is recruiting specific.

Recently I have started interviewing my coaching friends to see what they have been doing.

I have been trying and tweaking different methods and techniques.  This is still very much a work in progress because for me, I still haven’t found a complete system that I absolutely love.

What I am going to start doing on a new Coaching Productivity Newsletter that will start going out at least once a month, is to use it as a way to talk through the problem.  I will share methods or techniques that I am trying or anything new that I just learned in an effort to solve this email overload issue I am having.  If you are interested in joining in on the conversation or if you have something to share please go to www.mandygreencps.com.  Opt in and I will send you my newsletter every week it goes out.   I promise, I won’t fill your inbox with more crap.

Also, if you wouldn’t mind, I would love to interview you!   I am not interested in who you are recruiting or what you are sending to them.  I want to know how you process and manage your email.  Please email me at mandy@mandygreencps.com if you’re up for it.

FREE Organize Your Recruiting Ebook. For a limited time, receive a free chapter out of my Green Time Management For Coaches Workbook when you visit Coaching Productivity Strategies at www.mandygreencps.com.

Stop! Don’t Do It!Friday, March 28th, 2014

by Mandy Green, Head Women’s Soccer Coach, University of South Dakota 

We all have a tremendous amount to do these days.  Between recruiting, managing and training the team, office stuff, meetings, camps, etc, our to-do lists are getting longer and more out of control.

If you are one of the many coaches out there who is overwhelmed trying to get everything done,I want to help you regain control over your workload by helping you make better choices.  Since we only have so much time to get things done, you need to CHOOSE what gets done and what doesn’t get done. You must consciously choose what you will work on based on how it will affect your program and the results you want to produce and delay or eliminate other less important items from your schedule. You can’t find more time, but you can always change the way you use the time you already have.

Many productivity and time-management experts say the most helpful list you may ever create is one outlining what not to do. “Do-not-to-do” lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance in the office.

The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.

The idea is to list all the activities you are intentionally going to stop doing for the sake of greater productivity.  This is a list of activities that are time-wasters, your list of people not to talk to because they’re time vampires, your do-not-eat list, your not-to-have-in the office list, etc.

In his best-seller Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, Jim Collins lauds the value of a “stop-doing” list: “Those who built the good-to-great companies… made as much use of stop-doing lists as to-do lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk.”

I believe that there are 2 ways to figure out what should go on your do-not-do-list.

  1. The first step in deciding what not to do in your life is zeroing in on what you ultimately want to achieve.“If you really get clear about your real goals, visions and values, it will be easier to cut the extraneous things off your lists that aren’t that purposeful for you,” says David Allen, author of Getting Things Done.
  2. The second way to figure out what not-to-do is to time track.  Write down on the left hand side of a piece of paper the day’s times in 15-minute increments. As your day goes along, write down what you’re doing at that time all day long so you can identify things that you may be wasting too much time on in the office. By taking a realistic look at how you spend your time, you can determine which activities don’t yield valuable results in return for the time and effort they require. Then, you can cut those time-wasters out of your life.

Let’s take you through some examples. I wanted to share this list with you because I thought that they were very applicable to what we do as coaches.  Tim Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Work Week, had these items pertaining to email on his Do-Not-Do-List.

Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night
The former scrambles your priorities and plans for the day, and the latter just gives you insomnia. E-mail can wait until 10am, after you’ve completed at least one of your critical to-do items…

Do not check e-mail constantly — “batch” and check at set times only
Get off the cocaine pellet dispenser and focus on execution of your top to-do’s instead of responding to manufactured emergencies. Set up a strategic auto responder and check twice or thrice daily.

Do not carry a cellphone or Crackberry 24/7
Take at least one day off of digital leashes per week. Turn them off or, better still, leave them in the garage or in the car. I do this on at least Saturday, and I recommend you leave the phone at home if you go out for dinner. So what if you return a phone call an hour later or the next morning? As one reader put it to a miffed co-worker who worked 24/7 and expected the same: “I’m not the president of the US. No one should need me at 8 pm at night. OK, you didn’t get a hold of me. But what bad happened?”The answer?Nothing.

Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should
Work is not all of life. Your co-workers shouldn’t be your only friends. Schedule life and defend it just as you would an important business meeting. Never tell yourself “I’ll just get it done this weekend.”  Force yourself to cram work within tight hours so your per-hour productivity doesn’t fall through the floor. Focus, get the critical few done, and get out. E-mailing all weekend is no way to spend the little time you have on this planet.

Seeing through on your do-not-do list ultimately may take sheer force of will. Like everything, you will get better with practice.  Jim Collins writes, “The real question is… do you have the discipline to do the right thing and, equally important, to stop doing the wrong things?”

When you get stuck on your not-to-do list, you waste time and end the day frustrated because you didn’t get anything done. Make your list and post it where you can always see it to remind yourself of what you should not be doing.  Enlist the support of co-workers to help keep you on track.  If you find yourself doing something on your do-not-do list, get up, walk around, refocus, and then get back after your important to-do list items.  Good luck!

I’d love to hear what makes your list!  Please email me your list at mandy@mandygreencps.com

FREE Organize Your Recruiting Ebook.  For a limited time, receive a free chapter out of my Green Time Management For Coaches Workbook when you visit Coaching Productivity Strategies at www.mandygreencps.com

How to Stay Focused and Be 50% More Productive ImmediatelyMonday, December 24th, 2012

by Mandy Green

Head Soccer Coach, University of South Dakota and Time Management Expert

Coach you probably can relate to this scene I’m about to paint:

Have you ever started an email which should take you five minutes to write, then your assistant comes in and talks for five minutes.  Then your email notification ringer goes off so you quickly check your email wasting another 5-10 minutes.  Then just as you are getting back to the email you were writing, your phone rings.  Before you know it, an hour has gone by and your quick email that was going to take you five minutes is still not written.

Every coach likes to think they’re great at multi-tasking, and some of them actually are. But there’s a limit to how many things you can do at once without taking away from the quality of your work, plus it almost always greatly increases the time it takes to finish each project.

Experts estimate that the tendency to start and stop a task, to pick it up, put it down and come back to it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%. That means that a task that should take 10 minutes to complete now takes almost an hour.

Each time you leave one task and go to another, you have to mentally shift gears: You have to familiarize yourself with where you were when you stopped that task and what you still have to do. You then have to develop momentum and get into a productive work rhythm… but before you do that, you’ll probably be tempted to switch to yet another task, starting the process over again.

That’s why it is very important to absorb yourself with one thing at a time. Give that task your full focus and attention and complete it before moving on to the next thing. By concentrating single-mindedly on your most important task, you can reduce the time required to complete it by 50% or more. Do your most important task first. Do it until it’s completed. Then, and only then, move on to the next most important task.

One thing I have found extremely helpful in staying focused is to have a notebook nearby so I can write down any thoughts of other tasks that I remember that I need to do that may come into my head.  So if I am writing an email and I remember that I need to call a coach, I write it down instead of immediately making the call.  Writing it down allows me to get the thought out of my head and then I can immediately get back to staying focused on finishing my email, which results in the email getting done a lot quicker.  When the email is finished, I will make the call.

This technique is especially useful if I am searching for something on the internet.  I would start searching for an article or looking into getting a flight and I found I used to always get distracted and start clicking other links.   Before I knew it, I had wasted an hour going from website to website and was no-where close to finding what I got on the internet to begin with.  So now, instead of clicking on every link that interests me I write the link down and I stay focused on accomplishing what I was working on.  I try to do all of my web’s surfing at the end of the day when all of my other important priorities have been finished and only allow myself 30 minutes to do it.

Staying focused on one task at a time will be hard at first. But over time, just like with any other skill, it will become easier, and you’ll get things done quicker and quicker. Give the tasks you work on the attention they deserve and you will find that the quality of your work will go up, and the time spent doing each task will go down, therefore increasing your productivity and efficiency in the office.

If you are interested in more time saving ideas or techniques, check out the Green Time Management System for College Coaches at www.mandygreencps.com. Or send an email to mandy@mandygreencps.com.  Let’s make 2013 the most productive year ever!

 

Two Critical Time Management Mistakes Coaches MakeMonday, May 28th, 2012

by Mandy Green, Head Soccer Coach – University of South Dakota

Coach, have you ever come back from lunch, checked your email, fiddled around on the web, and realized that two or three hours had just slipped away from you?   Every day, so many coaches engage themselves in activities that are not relevant to their goals, recruiting, or their vision for their program.

These coaches waste an enormous amount of time every day and they aren’t even aware that they are doing it.

Brian Tracy, motivational speaker and best-selling author, says most people can waste up to one and a half hours per day because of time-management mistakes. That’s seven and a half hours per week… almost an entire work day!  It’s not a solid block of an hour and a half, but a minute here and a minute there, like a leaky hot water faucet…drip, drip, drip…it doesn’t seem like a major loss, but at the end the day, we’re dumping gallons of hot water down the drain.

The simple truth is that if you could just avoid or properly manage the following list of time-wasters and energy-killers better, you would be free to accomplish your goals and grow your program in profound ways.

One of the services we here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies offer when I go and do time management workshop for college coaches is to go through an eleven-point check on how they go about managing their time and identify any mistakes they may be making in terms of their approach.

It’s usually pretty revealing, and I am almost always able to identify mistakes that are being made by a coach in managing his or her day. Finding the time-wasters is the first step in determining how a coach can do his or her job better, and it is key in determining how we need to work with that individual coach or program.

There are two really big time wasters I will talk about here but obviously there are a ton more. Each one has the potential to really eat your time and heighten your stress levels. Even if you’re doing O.K. with one of the two areas I’m going to talk about, that one area you’re failing at can short-circuit your entire day.

1. Multi-Tasking
Every coach likes to think they’re great at multi-tasking, and some of them actually are. But there’s a limit to how many things you can do at once without taking away from the quality of your work, plus it almost always greatly increases the time it takes to finish each project. Experts estimate that the tendency to start and stop a task, to pick it up, put it down and come back to it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%. That means that a task that should take 10 minutes to complete now takes almost an hour.

That’s why it is very important to absorb yourself with one thing at a time. Give that task your full attention and complete it before moving on to the next thing. By concentrating single-mindedly on your most important task, you can reduce the time required to complete it by 50% or more. Do your most important task first. Do it until it’s completed. Then, and only then, move on to the next most important task.

2. Meetings
We have all been in meetings that don’t start on time, seem to have no purpose, and don’t end when they should. Those terrible meetings should tell you something about how your meetings should go.

First: Have a purpose and stick only to that purpose.
Second: Your meeting should start on time.
Third: Your meeting should end on time.

To sum up, if you say you are going to have a meeting from 11:30 to 12:00 to discuss the practice for the day, you better start your meeting at 11:30, it better be about the practice for the day and nothing else, and it better be over by 12:00.

No matter what sport you coach, time is valuable and work is interconnected. If you fail to start meetings on time or fail to meet commitments, you affect the work of the rest of your staff. Schedule blocks of time for each item to be discussed and then keep track of the time. Always keep commitments, and if you can’t, make sure all affected staff members know what happened.

The key point here with both of these time wasters is to stay FOCUSED – That’s all that really matters. Refuse to let other things distract you from the task at hand and you can triple your productivity in the office. It may be difficult at first but the more you practice it, the easier it will get.

Mandy Green is a regular featured speaker at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, and a talented coach, author and workshop leader for Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  Look for her new organizational workbook and calendar system for coaches soon!

Creating Checklists to Save Time in Your Coaching OfficeMonday, April 2nd, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

There are a lot of tasks that we do as coaches every day, week and year in the office, with our teams, staff, and with recruiting.  If you want to save time, and want to do it right every time, use a checklist.

For example, setting up a successful campus visit potentially can take a lot of time because there are a lot of details involved.

For those that read Dan’s articles, you know that you need to plan every possible area of your visit and your interaction with your recruits because they are watching your every move, and making judgment calls along the way as to whether or not to buy what you’re selling. On-campus visits are a pretty big deal, are a lot of work to set up, and can make or break your recruiting efforts.

An easy way to reduce the time it takes to schedule the visit and make sure that everything gets taken care of is to invest a few hours creating a streamlined procedure and have everything documented on an on-campus visit checklist.

The reason why checklists are good is simple: it’s easy for us to forget things. When you do something that involves multiple steps, it’s likely that you would forget one or two of them. Using checklists ensures that you won’t forget anything.

Besides helping you do your tasks correctly every time, here are some other benefits of using a checklist:

  • Creating a checklist will allow you to take the thinking out of repetitive tasks. Since you don’t have to remember all the steps you need to take, you can use your brain power for something else.
  • You can save time. When you have to think, remember, weigh your options, and agonize over every small task, it takes a lot of time, not to
    mention mental energy.  But when you make decisions in advance, you free up time to focus on other important activities that need to get done.
  • You can delegate more easily. If your recruiting coordinator is out recruiting, is ill, takes another job, or whatever, you don’t have to rush around trying to figure out what to do because every step for setting up a perfect on-campus visit is already outlined and recorded down on your on-campus
    visit checklist.

Start by writing down the steps you take when planning a visit from the start to the end of the visit. What tasks need to be done?  Who is responsible for doing each task?  When do tasks need to be done by?  What is the phone number and email of the people you would want the recruits to meet with?  What paperwork do you need completed by the recruits?  What compliance paperwork needs to be done?  I could go on and on but you get the idea.

Taking the time to map out each step in the process and document all of the important details will take a lot of work the first time you do it.  But because these will be steps you need to take every time you have an on-campus visit, by following a checklist you will save a TON of time in the long run and no important details will be forgotten.

Off the top of my head, here are four other things that you might want to create a checklist for:

  • Running a successful practice
  • Game-day routines
  • Travel procedures
  • Camp procedures

I urge you to evaluate all tasks that you do on a repetitive, routine basis to see if you can dream up ways to do them faster and better.  Take the time to create a checklist for all of these repetitive tasks and record all of the details involved.  You will be amazed at how much time and mental energy you will save when you are working off a checklist instead of trying to accomplish a task off of memory.

Mandy Green is one of the featured speakers at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference (register now!) and the author of an upcoming workshop and calendar system for coaches who want to become more organized and efficient as recruiters and professionals.  She is a regular expert contributor for Tudor Collegiate Strategies and College Recruiting Weekly.

Scheduling Your High Priority Activities as a College CoachMonday, February 13th, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

How long do you and your staff spend each day on unimportant things?  Things that don’t really contribute to the success of your program.

Do you know how much time you’ve spent reading junk mail, talking to colleagues, getting interrupted by somebody walking into your office, or getting phone calls everyday? And how often have you thought, “I could achieve so much more if I just had another half hour each day.”

In working closely with the team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies, I know we continually hear from coaches who struggle with their day.  They lament how often time seems to get away from them.  Even when they plan their upcoming calendar as a coaching staff, it seems to never quite unfold the way coaches hope.

First thing I want you to do: Identify the high-payoff activities within your program.

High-payoff activities are the things you do that bring the greatest value to your program, team, or staff.  They are the three to five activities that lie in your “sweet spot.”  You do them with excellence.  These activities could be building relationships with recruits, making phone calls to parents, sending emails to recruits, managing your current team, etc.  They are your unique discipline or distinctive skills and abilities that distinguish you from other staff members.

Knowing what your high-payoff activities are and actually doing them, however, are two very different things.  Many surveys that I have read over the past several years have shown that the average American worker spends only 50-60 percent of the workday on activities specified in her or her job description.  That means that workers waste 40-50 percent of their time on low-payoff activities, tackling things that others with less skill or training should be doing.

Are you in this category coach?

The more time you spend doing the high-payoff activities, the more value you will bring to your team, program, and staff.  By disciplining yourself to clearly identify your high-payoff activities, and then by filling your calendar with those things and appropriately delegating, delaying, or dropping the low-payoff activities, you can and will get more high-payoff activities done everyday, reduce your stress, and increase your happiness.

Homework-Time tracking in an Activity Log

Activity logs help you to analyze how you actually spend your time, and when you perform at your best. The first time you use an activity log the results may shock you! I know that I was shocked the first time I did one.

Do this activity for a week. Write down everything you do, from the time you start working until the time you go home. Without modifying your behavior any further than you have to, note down the things you do as you do them.  I created a sample template below.  You will need to cut and paste and make the template the size you need it to be depending on the amount of things you do everyday.

Every time you change activities, whether opening mail, working, making coffee, gossiping with colleagues or whatever, note down the time of the change.
As well as recording activities, note how you feel, whether alert, flat, tired, energetic, etc. Do this periodically throughout the day.

At the end of every time-tracked day, tally the total hours you spent in high- vs low-payoff activities.  Although this may seem like a hassle, it’s vitally important for you to become very clear on how you actually spend your time over the course of the week.  You may be alarmed to see the amount of time you spend doing low value jobs!

Activity logs are useful tools for auditing the way that you use your time. They can also help you to track changes in your energy, alertness and effectiveness throughout the day.

By analyzing your activity log you will be able to identify and eliminate time-wasting or low-value jobs. You will also know the times of day at which you are most effective, so that you can carry out your most important tasks during these times.

Soon you’ll gain a clear picture of how you’re actually spending your time and whether you have room to fill your calendar with the activities that will truly add the most value to you and your program.

Mandy Green, a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly, is a Division I head soccer coach and the author of an upcoming time-management guide for college coaches, as well as a corresponding calendar organizer.  In addition, she will be a featured speaker at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer.

Achieving Your Coaching and Recruiting Goals in the New YearMonday, January 23rd, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

The idea is a good one:

Set personal goals for the New Year, and then carry them out.  That’s a great idea for coaches, as well.

The problem I find is that coaches are so busy, going in so many directions, and pressed by “more important” matters that they don’t get around to serious goal setting.  But it’s important, and it can result in better performance for you as a college coach and recruiter.

Go back and take a look at the New Year’s Resolutions that you set just a few weeks ago for 2012.  Are you still working on them?  Or have you already gone back to your old ways of doing things and decided that you will try again next year?

Hopefully you are still working on accomplishing your goals for this year.  If not, I hate to say it but you are not the only coach out there who failed to keepyour resolutions.

A big reason so many New Year’s Resolutions fail within the first week is that the focus is on the “what” instead of the “why” and the “how.”

The first question to ask yourself when making New Year’s Resolutions is “why” am I making these goals in the first place?  The second question to ask yourself is “how” am I going to make this resolution a reality?

For example, if your resolution is to “mange my time better in the office so I can spend more time with my family,” maybe you should look to the root cause of the problem:

• I get into the office late
• I spend too much time emailing
• I get distracted easily
• I spend too much time gossiping with fellow coaches
• I’m not organized
• I have too many things to get done
• I get interrupted a lot during the day

Once you have identified the “why” for each resolution, create specific personal resolves for behavior change from there.
Here are a few specific resolves:

• I will get into the office 1 hour before the rest of the staff arrives
• I will only check my email twice a day
• I will create a personal, team, and recruiting plan
• I will make to-do lists to make sure the important things are getting done

Here’s a helpful exercise if you’re serious about achieving your goals for 2012:

1. For each goal you created for this upcoming season or year, make a list of the “why’s.”  What is the real reason you want to achieve this goal?

2. Come up with specific behavioral changes you are willing to make in order to make each resolution a reality.

3.  Commit an hour a day to spend on working on your goal and get to work.

When it comes to the goals you are trying to accomplish this year, I recommend keeping it simple.  Make sure your goals are attainable.  And, most of all, write them down.  Goals that are written down and placed where you can see them on a regular basis will get achieved.

Goal setting is the easy part. Committing to spending time each day working on your goals is tough for coaches because there are so many things to get done.

Goals are important for your personal and professional development.  Take them seriously as we head into the new year.

Mandy Green is the author of a soon to be released organizational book and calendar specifically designed for college recruiters.  She will also be speaking at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer.  Click here for more information on being a part of this informative weekend of cutting-edge recruiting techniques!

Learning to Take Charge of Your DecisionsMonday, January 2nd, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

“I just don’t have time to do it all.”

I hear that a lot from the coaches I work with.  It also seems to have become the mantra of this generation of coaches.  Most feel overwhelmed.  There’s just so much to do!  Over and over again comes the same frustrated question: “How do I fit it all in?”

For all college coaches, fitting it all in is a function of priority management.  If you think about it, priority management is less about managing your calendar than it is about managing your decisions.  By learning to prioritize and manage your decisions well, you will have a leg up on most of your competitors because you’ll be putting onto your calendar what is truly most important to you.

Unfortunately, while most coaches have thoughts, hunches, and ideas about what is important, they rarely transfer those ideas to their calendars.  And that is why it so quickly fills up with reactive stuff:

“Oh, I need to have that meeting with the captains?”
“Oh, there’s this crisis with the team?”
“Oh, I haven’t got that recruiting letter out yet?”
“Oh, I have to take this call from admissions?”

Coaches who talk like this get to what they label as “important” only after reacting to the crisis stuff.   Many coaches everyday give the controls of their day—and with it their success and sanity—to anyone and everyone who asks.

How does this happen?  It happens when you don’t make and stick to a daily plan.  I see it quite often with the coaches that I am working with, they feel unproductive and stressed out at the end of most days and the reason is that they don’t get into the drivers seat and control the route and outcome of their day.

When starting the process of managing your decisions, first ask yourself these 3 important questions.

1.  What is important to you? You will not be able to manage your daily routine until you first figure out what is most important to you.   Whatever that may be, you know that getting it done will enable you to be more focused, productive, successful, and happier.
2. What is your vision? Running a program without a vision of where you want to be is much like building a puzzle without having the picture on the box.
3. What is your roadmap to success look like? What will it take to win at your program?  What are the things your staff and team needs to do everyday to be successful?

The answers to the three questions above are the non-negotiables.  These things have to be scheduled into your calendar and worked on everyday.

Coach, if you don’t schedule your priorities, everyone and everything else around you will.  If you don’t take charge of your schedule, your team, assistants, recruits, parents, administrators, and whoever or whatever else will fill your days for you.  If you don’t identify your top priorities and schedule your day around them, at the end of the day you’ll always find yourself using leftover space to cram in what you consider important.   The worst thing?  The end of the day is usually family time or exhaustion time.

If you find yourself in that regrettable situation, there’s only one thing to do: Step up and take charge of your schedule.

Mandy Green is the head women’s soccer coach at the University of South Dakota, and the author of a new time management system for college coaches.  She will also be a featured speaker at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

Why Every Coach Should Track Their TimeSunday, November 6th, 2011

by Mandy Green, Head Soccer Coach – University of South Dakota

How long do you spend each day on unimportant things?

Things that don’t really contribute to the success of your program?

Do you KNOW how much time you’ve spent reading junk mail, talking to colleagues, getting interrupted by somebody walking into your office, or getting phone calls everyday? And how often have you thought, “I could achieve so much more if I just had another half hour each day.”

In my years of being associated with Tudor Collegiate Strategies, I know they continually hear from smart, capable college coaches who struggle with their day.  They lament how often time seems to get away from them.

As the first step towards fixing that problem, the first thing I would want you to do is identify the high-payoff activities within your program.

High-payoff activities are the things you do that bring the greatest value to your program, team, or staff.  They are the three to five activities that lie in your “sweet spot.”  You do them with excellence.

These activities could be building relationships with recruits, making phone calls to parents, sending emails to recruits, managing your current team, and other essential success-oriented activities.  They are your unique discipline or distinctive skills and abilities that distinguish you from other staff members.

Knowing what your high-payoff activities are and actually doing them, however, are two very different things.  Many surveys that I have read over the past several years have shown that the average American worker spends only 50-60 percent of the workday on activities specified in her or her job description.  That means that workers waste 40-50 percent of their time on low-payoff activities, tackling things that others with less skill or training should be doing.

Are you in this category coach?

The more time you spend doing the high-payoff activities, the more value you will bring to your team, program, and staff.  By disciplining yourself to clearly identify your high-payoff activities, and then by filling your calendar with those things and appropriately delegating, delaying, or dropping the low-payoff activities, you can and will get more high-payoff activities done everyday, reduce your stress, and increase your happiness.

Your Homework Assignment -Time Tracking in an Activity Log

Activity logs help you to analyze how you actually spend your time, and when you perform at your best. The first time you use an activity log the results may shock you! I know that I was shocked the first time I did one.

Do this for a week:  Write down everything you do, from the time you start working until the time you go home. Without modifying your behavior any further than you have to, note down the things you do as you do them.

Every time you change activities, whether opening mail, working, making coffee, gossiping with colleagues or whatever, note down the time of the change.
As well as recording activities, note how you feel…are you alert, flat, tired, energetic, or frustrated?  Do this periodically throughout the day.

At the end of every time-tracked day, tally the total hours you spent in high payoff vs. low payoff activities.  Although this may seem like a hassle, it’s vitally important for you to become very clear on how you actually spend your time over the course of the week.  You may be alarmed to see the amount of time you spend doing low value jobs!

By analyzing your activity log you will be able to identify and eliminate time-wasting or low-value jobs. You will also know the times of day at which you are most effective, so that you can carry out your most important tasks during these times.

Soon you’ll gain a clear picture of how you’re actually spending your time and whether you have room to fill your calendar with the activities that will truly add the most value to you and your program.

Mandy Green is a Division I soccer coach at the University of South Dakota, and is a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly on the topics of organization and time management for college coaches.  She is a regular speaker at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, and is the author of a soon to be released time management guide for college coaches.

Squeezing the Most (and the Best!) Out of Your Coaching DayMonday, October 17th, 2011

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

Coach, have you ever sat down and really analyzed how effective and efficient you are being with your day?  Which task do you choose to focus on?  Is one more important to you than the other?

In his book, The On-Purpose Person, author Kevin McCarthy describes the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. “Efficiency is doing things right in the most economical way possible; effectiveness is doing the right things that get you closer to your goals.”

It seems to me that being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe. What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.   Now, being efficient is still important, but we all know that it is useless unless applied to the right things.

There are two ways for you to increase productivity that are inversions of each other:

1. Limit daily tasks just to the important to shorten your work time (80/20).
2. Shorten work time to limit your tasks so you only focus on the important (Parkinson’s Law)

Pareto’s 80/20 Law can be summarized as follows: 20 percent of your priorities will give you 80 percent of your production.

Ask yourself these two questions about your program, your team, and your staff:

–Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?
–Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?

Once you have identified your top 20%, commit to scheduling those activities into your day, everyday.  Then, go the next step further by putting a time restriction on how long you will give yourself to complete each high-priority activity.

Timothy Ferriss, in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, introduces a concept called Parkinson’s Law.  Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.

The best solution is to use 80/20 and Parkinson’s Law together:  Identify the few critical high-payoff tasks that contribute most to effectiveness and efficiency within your program and then schedule each activity with very short and clear deadlines.

Coach, it is critical to the success of your program that you know what your high-priority activities are and are incorporating those high-payoff activities into your schedule consistently every single day.  Once identified, set an aggressive deadline for each task and block off certain sections of your day where you focus on nothing but that task to ensure completion.

If you haven’t identified your high-priority tasks and are not setting aggressive start and end times for their completion, the unimportant emails, phone calls, and people popping their head into your office becomes the important.  These unimportant things can and will eat up a good chunk of your day if you continue to let them.

Mandy Green is a Division I head soccer coach at the University of South Dakota, and a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly.  She will be a featured speaker at the 2012 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Boston, this coming June 1-3, 2012.  You can register now to hear Coach Green and a host of other nationally recognized recruiting experts and save big on the conference fee, as well as hotel rooms.  Click here for all the details!

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